Christmas in a pandemic: How to have a ‘Jolly’ good time


Christmas is going to be very different this year, and with just five days to celebrate the festive season with three households in a selective bubble, it means a lot of people could end up feeling anxious and lonely.

Saffron Walden-based psychotherapist and founder of wellness education platform,, Mark Newey, gives his top tips to putting the ‘happy’ back into Christmas.

Who’s in your festive ‘bauble’?

It’s been a very trying year and whilst the tier system is not as draconian as general lockdown, it still means many of us will be faced with a choice of limiting who we can see over the festive period. No-one wants to upset anyone over Christmas, but some tough decisions do need to be made. Try and decide who’s visiting who as soon as possible, this will help to clear the situation and give you a chance to have something to look forward to. Everyone needs to be understanding and big-hearted this year, especially if we’re unable to see some relatives, or the ones we want to see decide to go elsewhere. But, although Christmas falls on the 25 December, there’s nothing stopping you creating another festive celebration with members outside of your bubble when restrictions ease later in 2021.

Add some hygge to your home

Enjoying this Christmas will be about cosiness, respect and determination to pull together for a good time. In fact, we could all do with some hygge, the Scandinavian concept of winter cosiness, so why not get the decorations up now, put the icicle lights up, light the candles and get the logs on the fire.

This Christmas more than any other, is a wonderful time to reflect and be grateful for what we have. Many people have also experienced financial issues this year, so why not suggest that everybody lower their sights on what presents they want or offer to contribute to one larger gift?


As ever exercise is vital to release endorphins and get ‘happy hormones’ flooding through your body. We should also take the opportunity to get outside: never has the Boxing Day walk been so vital.

How to navigate your way to the New Year

Unfortunately very few people experience the Hollywood version of Christmas! For many of us it’s a time of extreme emotional stress, when we spend days with relatives, with whom we normally only spend a few hours. To some degree many of us have had some practice at being cooped up with immediate family over two extended periods of lockdown, but Christmas is different! So how do we make the most of the festive season and avoid arguments, confrontation and stress? There are two areas to focus on.

First, focus on getting all of the organisation done up front, rather than the usual last minute dash; enlist help if necessary. Second, be open and honest; hiding how we feel or putting up with something can cause resentment, which explodes when we feel somebody has gone too far. Consider how you can pre-empt situations, how best to divert issues and ways to deal with tricky scenarios. Third, consider how much you are spending and whether borrowing money could actually worsen your financial situation.

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